AUBURN HILLS, MI – Turbocharged hybrids, electrically actuated turbochargers and electrically driven compressors to mitigate turbo lag figure prominently in the powertrain future, according to BorgWarner executives.

With one-third of the global turbocharger market, BorgWarner is banking on continued growth as engine downsizing continues. CEO James Verrier says he often fields questions about potential loss of market share now that rivals Bosch and Continental entered the sector several years ago.

“The answer is, ‘Heck no.’ We’re not and we won’t,” Verrier tells journalists. Honeywell (maker of Garrett turbochargers) is BorgWarner’s chief turbo rival, followed by IHI of Japan and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

In 2006, 7.2% of light vehicles sold in the U.S. had turbocharged gasoline and diesel engines, and that figure has grown every year since, to 25.6% in 2016, according to WardsAuto data. Meanwhile in Europe, the penetration rate of turbocharged engines is approaching 70%, Honeywell executives have said.

Even though turbochargers historically have been associated with high-performance sports cars, BorgWarner Chief Technical Officer Chris Thomas says they also will play a key role in future fuel sippers.

“Most people think of hybrids and say, ‘Well, they don’t have turbochargers.’ Well, that’s not true in the future,” says Thomas, citing 18% of hybrids and mild hybrids using turbochargers currently. Ten years from now, he projects that figure will reach 56%.

Based on his discussions with OEM powertrain executives, Thomas says the “next-generation gasoline engines will have turbochargers on them” and will benefit from the fuel-saving Miller combustion cycle and aggressive use of exhaust-gas recirculation. “And those types of powertrains are what will be in hybrids.”

Turbocharged hybrids will help BorgWarner grow its revenues derived from the hybrid sector 54% by 2023. By then, 42% of hybrids are expected to carry BorgWarner technology and an average $225 of content per vehicle. Currently, the supplier says 20% of hybrids use its technology, for an average content per vehicle of $140.

Within the next few weeks in Europe, BorgWarner is launching its eBooster electrically driven compressor, designed to augment a traditional turbocharger and eliminate the pause that has hindered turbochargers over the years as they spool up with exhaust gas.

 “When you accelerate, the eBooster will blow air into the engine before the turbocharger can spool up,” Thomas says. “This will enable the next round of downsizing in engines.”

The first application in Europe pairs the technology with a 48V electrical system, but the eBooster is compatible with 12V systems as well. He says the supplier has customers who want both versions. A 12V system can route up to 2 kW of power to the eBooster, while a 48V system can deliver up to 8 kW, a BorgWarner executive says.

The supplier offers up test drives in a modified Ford Mustang with the production 2.3L 4-cyl. engine mated to the eBooster and a larger, high-pressure BorgWarner turbocharger used for Indy race cars.

The prototype produces 415 hp and 320 lb.-ft. (434 Nm) of torque at 2,000 rpm, while the factory-installed Ford 2.3L produces 310 hp at 275 lb.-ft. (373 Nm) at 2,000 rpm, based on data measured at the rear wheels. But the observed fuel economy between the two is basically the same, the supplier notes.

BorgWarner built the concept to demonstrate it also could outgun Ford’s factory-installed 5.0L V-8, which produces 385 hp and 290 lb.-ft. (393 Nm) of torque at 2,000 rpm – again, based on data measured at the rear wheels.

The test car is a bucking bronco at step-off, spinning the rear wheels and requiring a steady hand on the tiller as the prototype struggles to stay in a straight line. There is no turbo lag, and the prodigious boost continues building at high engine speeds.

Thomas calls it a “dramatic” demonstration vehicle that delivers V-8 throttle response and 4-cyl. fuel economy, which he says is 35% better than the V-8.

New technologies are coming along, but BorgWarner expects conventional mechanically driven turbochargers, particularly its variable-turbine geometry unit now featured on new 4-cyl. engines in both the Porsche 718 Boxster and Cayman, will not go away.

“Current turbochargers in production still bring a lot of benefits and downsizing possibilities for internal-combustion engines,” Joseph Fadool, president and general manager of BorgWarner’s Morse Systems division, tells WardsAuto.

“When you start looking at further steps in downsizing, we find the eBooster enables you to optimize the traditional turbo and not worry about your starting from a standstill,” he says. “You get that immediate transient response using the eBooster.”

Other suppliers are delivering similar electrically driven compressors but in small volume. “We are confident by the end of next year, we will be the highest-volume eBooster manufacturer in the world,” Fadool says.

Another benefit of the eBooster is its ability to regenerate airflow that cycles exhaust-gas energy through the motor and back to the battery, instead of routing excess air through a wastegate.

BorgWarner identifies Volkswagen as its largest customers globally and supplies the automaker with turbochargers for both gasoline and diesel engines.

Despite VW’s regulatory troubles over diesel engines equipped with illegal devices to cheat on emissions tests, Verrier says BorgWarner is not seeing an impact from reduced turbocharger volume with VW.

“We have a long relationship with VW, and it continues on,” he says.

tmurphy@wardsauto.com